Social Network that we are playing nowadays mostly are within the network of chatting among friends, but there is another group of Social Network emphasizes in specific marketing among the players with same interest and this time it has been developed specially for couples.
Between is the Social Network designed for the couples of lovers.? In the latest Echelon 2012 thumbsup editor had chance to meet Edward Lee from VCNC Company who had developed the app Between.? Let?s make acquainted with this service and discuss its business tendency in depth of this Social Network that emphasizes the target of such specific market.
thumbsup: Please introduce your service. How does the idea come from?
Edward: As ?social networking? is becoming a dominant part of our lives, we are often faced with sensitive privacy issues, mainly concerning ?with whom to share what.? ?We all love the openness of the social networking platforms that allow us to connect even with celebrities, but not likely to the extent in which our potential employer can search our private information and our grandparents view our nightlife memories. Reflecting such growing concern of social data privacy, new services like Path, Groupme, Everyme have developed ?privacy-aware social services? that enable targeted sharing.
We came up with the conclusion that couples have the biggest need of this issue. However, we have found no useful and great mobile service for couples. As everyone knows, couples possess strong purchase power and are a greatly wanted target group for advertisers. This in other words was interpreted as ?opportunity? to us. This is how we came up with Between.
thumbsup: Please explain your business model?
Edward: Our business model is largely categorized into three parts. Freemium, Commerce and Advertisement.
First, for the Freemium model, our app is free and we will be adding premium functions for our users to use such as animated emoticons, video messages, backups etc.
Second, for the commerce model, we will be offering mobile coupons and physical goods to our users. Couples would be able to send lattes or maybe flowers to their significant other through our service.
Third, for the advertisement model, we will allow advertisers and companies to promote their awesome products/services or deals that fit the needs of couples. The Event Box, located the Home tab in Between, is used as a channel for this.
thumbsup: Please share the download statistic?
Edward: We currently have more than 1.48 million downloads ever since our open-beta launch in November 22, 2011.?Currently 70% of our users are in South Korea, 10% in China, 7-8% in Japan, 5% in the US.?2.5% of our users are from Thailand!
thumbsup: How do you promote your application to the global market?
Edward: Up to now we have used the following methods in promoting our app globally.
First, we made partnerships with other companies. This is actively happening in Korea and Japan. Since big companies have a large user base, our collaboration with them increases our exposure in .
Second, we have participated in many tech conferences to present our service in other countries. From some of the conferences we’ve attended, we achieved some great results: The Next Web Conference (Netherlands), “The Best Mobile App”; GMIC 2012 (China), 2nd Place; Echelon 2012 (Singapore), 2nd Place. Also, from these results we were able to have some press releases (Forbes, The Economist, AFP, CNN-Health and others) from various countries.
thumbsup: Who are your direct competitors?
Edward: There are now many competitors out there. Many of these competitors coming out seem to be a good sign for us. Because, apart from the great traction we?ve made(1.5 million), this is just another sign that confirms our hypothesis was right, which is that ?couples need a place to communicate and share their memories?. Between is the first mover in this field. We have an advantage over them in number of users, supporting languages (supporting 13 languages) and also our team has experienced a lot throughout our alpha, beta and official launch which serves as a great asset. These features and experience will be leveraged to bring peak performance and compete with the other brands in this market.
If I name one of the competitors, I would say Pair. The difference between Between and Pair would be is that Pair seems to focus on instant messaging and real-time interaction, while Between is focusing on both real-time communication and archiving memories for couples. We think that communicating is very important, however, we also think that organizing and helping them look back at their relationship is also important. I think our photo album and memo board does a good job in doing this.
thumbsup: what is your sustainability strategy?
Edward: We are trying to provide a service where couples can eventually use for all phases of life. This includes the first day they meet and go out, get engaged, get married, have their first baby and so on. At the end, we want to become an ultimate helper for couples, so that they can use Between in every aspect they share. So, although we only touch a small potion of the relationship between couples, we would like to provide more features and content to our users to enhance all aspects of couples’ life.
thumbsup: Since launching the service, what is the big obstacle you have found and how do you solve it?
Edward: We have been constantly acquiring users and the pace has not yet slowed down, however we think growing our user base is one of the difficulties we may face. Unlike other social networking services, we don’t have a network effect. To overcome this we are always constantly searching for other markets to expand our service. So, as we hit a critical mass in a certain market and obtain organic growth, we enter another market to acquire more users, so that the rate of inflow trends upward.
thumbsup: In your opinion, how do you see the global trend of social network? Do you think there are new social networks targeting the niche market same as your product?
Edward: As I mentioned in the answer for Question 1, people these days, for various reasons, are looking for places that are more private than social. And I think this trend will continue, not only and limited to couples, but even for families, friends, classmates, colleagues and so on.
thumbsup: Can you share about your funding?
Edward: We have been funded $1M USD by Softbank Ventures. And we are planning to close our next round by the end of this year.
thumbsup: How do your plan to enter and promote your application in Thai market?
Edward: We are currently focusing on Japan, however, our roadmap heads next to South East Asia. Among many of the countries, we have found that people in Thailand really like our service and think that it would be a nice place to start our presence. As we promote further in the Thailand market, we would like to work with companies in the area that can bring a positive influence for both companies.
thumbsup: What do you want to share for Thai startup?
Edward: We have done some co-promotions with startups in Korea and Japan. So, as we penetrate the Thailand market, I think we can collaborate with good quality services to make synergies for both companies as we’ve done before.